Dealing with Debt Information on how to budget

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1 Dealing with Debt Information on how to budget quality homes in great communities on behalf of

2 If you would like to speak to someone about this information in your own language please visit your estate office who will arrange this for you. Se quiser falar com alguém acerca desta informação na sua língua, por favor visite o escritório da sua propriedade eles arranjarão isto para si. Si desea poder hablar con alguien en su propio idioma acerca de esta información, por favor, visite su oficina de su zona residencial donde se encargarán de organizar este servicio para usted. If you require a large print, Braille or audiotape version of this document please contact the communications team on or us at 2

3 Dealing with debt Many people are in debt these days, for all sorts of reasons. The important thing is to prioritise your debt and work out what you can afford to pay so you can gradually clear your debts. This Budget Pack can help you do this in six easy steps. Where do I start? When dealing with debt it is easy to become overwhelmed so there are a few things to remember: Don t ignore the debt. It won t go away. Speak to your creditors. If they are aware you are having difficulty paying then they should be willing to make an arrangement with you to repay the debt in affordable stages. Fill out a budget sheet. Work out what you need to live on so you know how much you can afford when making offers to repay your debts. You can use the budget sheet on page five to help you do this or ask your housing officer for advice. Prioritise your debt. If you owe money to more than one person or organisation you should make offers for the most important debts first. If you can t pay your rent you may lose your home so this should be your first priority. Remember you re not alone. As well as your housing officer, there are a number of agencies who can offer advice, help you with benefits and work out how much you can afford. You can find a list of agencies at the end of this leaflet. Why should I make a budget plan? By working out a weekly or monthly budget you can work out a reasonable offer to repay the money you owe. Budgeting will help you work out where your money is going and how to best manage your finances. When making an offer of repayment, don t worry if you can t afford much, it s better to pay a small amount regularly than nothing at all. Your debts will not go away so the sooner you make arrangements to repay your debts the sooner you will get peace of mind. 3

4 Which debts should I prioritise? The table below shows you the debts you should prioritise and the consequences of not paying. Debt Rent Gas / Electricity / Telephone Council Tax Possible action against you Eviction from your home Supply cut off / Pre-payment meter fitted Seizure of personal goods / Deduction from wages or benefits/ Imprisonment What are my priority debts? The debts in the table to the left are the most important due to the consequence of non-payment. Other debts such as credit cards, loans etc. (i.e. any credit debts) should be treated as a lower priority although you must contact the lenders so they are aware of the difficulty you are having. Now you know which debts you need to pay first, you can plan your budget. Paying your rent arrears If you cannot afford to pay your rent you need to contact your housing officer immediately. Your housing officer will help you come to an agreement to clear any arrears by regular instalments whilst still paying your weekly rent. 4 TV Licence Magistrates Court Fines Child Support Payments Income tax, National Insurance, VAT arrears Court fine / Seizure of personal goods / Imprisonment Seizure of personal goods / Deduction from wages or benefits/ Imprisonment Seizure of goods / Deduction from wages or benefits / Imprisonment / Take away Driving Licence Seizure of personal goods / Bankruptcy How do I make a budget plan? The table on the following page helps you list all your income and all your outgoings so you know how much money you have left to pay your creditors. It s important that you include all your outgoings so what you end up paying towards your debts is always affordable. How to fill out the budget sheet Step 1 - list all your income and enter the total income in Box A. Step 2 list all outgoings and enter the total in Box B. Step 3 take away your total outgoings in Box B from your total income in Box A. Enter the total in Box C. This is how much money you have left to pay your creditor.

5 Tips Wages enter your take-home pay after any deductions. Only include overtime if it is regular. At this stage don t include any debt repayments. Rent include your charges for heating, hot water etc. because you ll need to pay this on top of any arrears. Fuel work out the cost of your last four bills and divide the total by 52 if preparing a weekly budget or by 12 if preparing a monthly budget. Step 1 Your Personal Budget Sheet Wages / Salary Working Tax Credit Child Benefit Child Tax Credit Income Support / JSA Other State Benefits Pensions Child Support Other contributions Total income BOX A Income Weekly/monthly Step 2 Your Personal Budget Sheet Rent (inc. charges) Council Tax Water rates Gas Electricity Home Insurance Other fuel TV Rental / Licence Housekeeping inc. food Court Fines Child Support Hire purchase Travel School / work meals Clothing Laundry Telephone / mobile Healthcare Childcare Other Total outgoings BOX B Total income BOX A Total outgoings Box B Money for creditors BOX C Outgoings Weekly/monthly minus 5

6 What if your outgoings are more than your income? Check whether you are entitled to extra benefits Spread out payments on your household bills Contact your fuel supply for an energy efficiency check to cut fuel bills Step 4 Priority debt Balance owed Rent Arrears Council Tax Electricity Gas Telephone Other fuel Court Fines Child support Total repayment BOX D Step 5 Money for creditors BOX C Total repayment BOX D Money left over BOX E Repayment offer minus How to make a repayment plan Now you know how much money you have left over at the end of the month you know how much you can afford to pay towards your debts. Step 4 use the table to the left to list your priority debts. Your housing officer will tell you how much rent you need to pay. Once you have decided how much to pay each creditor enter the total in Box D and subtract it from the money you had left to pay your creditors (Box C). Step 5 once you ve figured out how much you have left over enter it in Box E so you know how much you have left to pay any credit debts. What are credit debts? These are debts where the creditor doesn t have any extra powers such as eviction. These debts include credit card debts, personal loans and store cards. While these debts aren t as high a priority as your rent, you still need to contact your creditors so they know of the difficulty you re having. If you do have money left in Box E you can work out repayment offers for your remaining creditors. The best way to do this is by pro-rata distribution so all your creditors receive a fair amount. 6

7 Step 6 Creditor Balance owed Total owed Box F Total monthly repayment (Box E) Re-paying credit debts Monthly offer of repayment If you have any money left over after making arrangements to re-pay your priority debts, complete the table above. To calculate how much you should offer each creditor you need to do the following: 1 Money remaining for credit debts (Box E) x each debt 2 total owed (Box F) 3 = offer to creditor You should now have a fair offer for each creditor. When you contact your creditors remember to show them a copy of your budget sheet so they know it s all you can afford. Many agencies will also have letter templates you can use to write to your creditors. Please note that by not paying these debts your credit rating may still be affected so it is very important you seek advice. Remember it s very important to get help off specialist agencies and you shouldn t be expected to pay for debt advice. Loans and loan sharks Taking out a new loan may be an option, you should always plan your budget then try and make arrangements with your existing lenders first or see if your bank will increase your overdraft. Loan sharks are unlicensed money lenders who are not regulated by the Office of Fair Trading. They operate outside the law and offer very bad terms so you will have to pay a very high interest rate and you will get harassed if you get behind with your payments. If you have already borrowed money from an unlicensed money lender you are under no legal obligation to repay the debt and you should contact your local Trading Standards Officer immediately for help. 7

8 Where can I get more advice? From their office in Marylebone, CHAS CL offer independent debt and housing advice to our tenants and will help you draw up your budget plan, work out a repayment plan and contact your creditors. If you wish to speak to CHAS CL, your housing officer will refer you to them so they can contact you. Alternatively you can contact them in the following ways: Tel: Web: Contact us For more information please contact your housing officer at your local estate office. Alternatively, you can contact CityWest Homes in one of the following ways: Tel: Fax: Minicom: (for residents who are deaf or hearing impaired) Website: Write to: CityWest Homes 21 Grosvenor Place London, SW1X 7EA Other contacts National Debtline Freephone: Website: Citizens Advice Bureau Advice Line: Website: Local offices: Paddington CAB 441 Harrow Road, W10 4RE or Pimlico CAB 140 Tachbrook Street, SW1V 2NE adviceuk Tel: Community Legal Advice Tel: Consumer Credit Public Register Tel: Energywatch (to compare fuel prices) Tel: Web: Trading Standards Tel: Printed April 08

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